Improving Public School Education Should Not Come at the Expense of Teacher’s Rights

It has been six decades since the landmark Brown v Board of Education aimed to bring more equality to education—as a fundamental, constitutional right for all Americans. But apparently, the promise has not been fulfilled as the concept of “separate but equal” remains a major issue in American public schools.

As a matter of fact, the issue has resurfaced in a new lawsuit which could put the labor rights of teachers up against access to education for children.

classroomEducation reformers sometimes go after the labor protections that teachers have, and when they do, they argue that it is in the best interest of the students, implying that teachers may need to make some sacrifices to better serve their students. Of course, those on the labor front will argue directly against this point, saying that while education could certainly count as an “industry” it needs to be one more community focused, putting more emphasis on democratic equity than on a simple supply and demand business model.

Recently, a California Appeals Court shut down reform advocates behind the lawsuit—Vergara v California—who argued that the state’s tenure policies are not effective. These policies are supposed to provide significant job protection for teachers who have seniority status, but they are arguing that this policy is unfair and even discriminatory.

Accordingly, the California Teachers Association argues that the concept of tenure does, in fact, protect due process; not to protect “bad” teachers but rather to ensure more stability and integrity in decisions related to both the hiring and firing of teachers.

Of course, the issue is not just one of protecting teacher’s rights. Many other factors do apply. For one, many school districts are grossly limited in their available resources. In fact, about half of all public schools throughout the country are considered to be “high-poverty schools.” In reference to this, of course, more often than not, teaching credentials among educators in high-poverty schools are notably lower than the teaching credentials of teachers, overall, nationwide.

And so, advocates now are making an effort to remind voters, regulators, and politicians, that teacher’s rights—and their protections—are just as important as the quality of education they provide. They hope to encourage everyone to remember that providing teachers with more options and better resources—protecting their rights—makes it easier for them to do their job of providing the best educational experience for our children.